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General assembly 2017 Bill seeks $1.45 million for man wrongly imprisoned 33 years for 1982 rape and murder - DNA

Keith Allen Harward, 60, was exonerated by the Virginia Supreme Court in April after DNA testing not only excluded him of the savage beating death of a Newport News man and the rape of his wife in the couple's home, but also implicated the real killer.

January 16, 2017

Bills pending in the General Assembly would award $1.45 million in compensation to a man wrongly convicted of a 1982 rape and murder in Newport News and $1 million to a man convicted of two 1987 arson deaths in Roanoke. 

Keith Allen Harward, 60, was exonerated by the Virginia Supreme Court in April after DNA testing not only excluded him of the savage beating death of a Newport News man and the rape of his wife in the couple's home, but also implicated the real killer. 

Harward, a resident of Greensboro, N.C., was convicted in large part on the now-discredited testimony of two forensic odontologists who said bite marks left on the rape victim matched Harward's teeth. "It would be nice if it was more than that," said Harward, reached by telephone Monday. According to the bill, if Harward accepts the money, he must waive any further claims against the state. 

He and his lawyers had been weighing a lawsuit, but he said that might take years to resolve. "Considering my age — if I was 40 years old and was financially able to, I would sit back and spank 'em," Harward said. The compensation bill was introduced by state Del. Richard C. "Rip" Sullivan Jr., D-Fairfax. "I'm very hopeful that we will get this claims bill through this session. 

"There's nothing we can do to give him back his 33 years but the General Assembly does have a process in place and as far as I'm concerned, this is a debt of the commonwealth. We've just got to find room in the budget to pay it," Sullivan said. At the time of the crimes, Harward was a sailor of the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier under construction at the shipyard near the home where the attack occurred. He was convicted twice. 

He was convicted of capital murder the first time but escaped a death sentence. He was tried a second time for first-degree murder and was sentenced to life. The Innocence Project took up Harward's case, and DNA testing in recent years cleared Harward and implicated another Carl Vinson sailor, Jerry Crotty, who died a decade ago in an Ohio prison where he was being held for unrelated crimes. If the proposal is made law, 

Harward would receive an initial lump sum payment of $290,000, with $1.16 million set aside to purchase an annuity for his benefit. A bill introduced by state Sen. Scott A. Surovell, D-Fairfax, would provide $1,032,293 to Davey Reedy, who was imprisoned from 1988 until 2009 for two counts of first-degree murder and arson stemming from the death of his two children. They died of smoke inhalation after their house caught fire. 

Gov. Terry McAuliffe granted Reedy an absolute pardon in December 2015, saying the convictions were not supported by the forensic evidence introduced at his trial. If the bill is approved, Reedy would receive an initial lump sum of $206,459, and $825,834 would be used to purchase an annuity.

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